airBaltic partners with Musk‘s Starlink to equip fleet with internet

airBaltic will offer free Wi-Fi on all of its fleet following a partnership with Starlink
Adomas Daunoravicius / Shutterstock.com

airBaltic passengers will now have access to the internet on every flight following its partnership with SpaceX to equip its entire fleet with the Starlink internet connectivity solution. 

The Riga, Latvia-based airline claimed that all passengers will benefit from complimentary internet access during airBaltic flights without having to navigate login pages or any other hurdles. SpaceX began to provide Starlink in-flight internet services on commercial aircraft in 2022.  

The satellites utilized by the company orbit in the low-Earth at an altitude of 550 kilometers, which is “over 65 times closer than conventional geostationary satellites”. As such, the company, which is owned by Elon Musk, “can deliver up to 350 Mbps to aircraft, and with latency as low as 20 ms”, according to the airline’s press release. 

“This marks a historic moment for our airline and the industry as a whole. Soon airBaltic will become the first airline in Europe to launch high-speed, unlimited, and free-of-charge satellite internet on board,” stated Martin Gauss, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of airBaltic. Meanwhile, the Vice President of Starlink Sales, Jonathan Hofeller, added that the Latvian airline “is setting a new standard in ensuring its passengers have an internet experience that they have come to expect in our modern age”. 

“With Starlink’s high-speed, low-latency internet, airBaltic passengers will have internet similar to or better than what they experience at home. Customers will walk on the plane and the internet will simply work, making the stress of login pages and downloading large files before takeoff a thing of the past,” Hofeller added.  

airBaltic is unable to deploy the internet solution on its fleet just yet. According to the company, it will work with SpaceX to secure the Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) from regulators required to provide Starlink services to travelers. Currently, the carrier expects to begin installing the system on its entire fleet sometime in 2023. 

Airbus delivered the latest Airbus A220-300 to the Latvian airline on December 30, 2022, making it the 39th A220 to reach the company’s fleet since the first was delivered in November 2016. The A220-300 is the only aircraft type in airBaltic’s fleet. 

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